By Christina Whiting
“Broadway Babies” is a Homer cabaret project showcasing the diverse talents of an all-ages ensemble of local ladies. Think “Fiddler on the Roof” meets “Hairspray” meets “Legally Blonde.”
“The audience can expect a night full of songs that will lift their spirits, make them cry, leave them laughing and wow their senses,” said show producer Jessica Williams.
The cast includes women who have been performing for as long as they can remember, as well as those who are relatively new to the stage. The Broadway Babies are Nancy Chastain, Madilynne Elkington-Wood, Hannah Heimbuch, Maura Jones, Sabina Karwowski, Shenandoah Lush, Sydney Paulino, Chloe Pleznac, Margaret Quarton, Sierra Smith and Jessica Williams.
Nancy Chastain has been performing for audiences since 1985. She is also a playwright.
“Everything about theater inspires and sometimes terrifies me,” she said. “It’s all about working with other people to create an engaging story for an audience that both inspires and entertains them.”
Hannah Heimbuch’s first stage production was as a youth, during a time in her life when she was very shy.
“I was a mouse in the Homer Nutcracker Ballet and I think I hid in the bookshelf,” she said. “I seem to be making up for lost time by being loud and ostentatious now.”
Heimbuch was drawn to Broadway Babies because of the songs, the chance to collaborate with a group of women and the challenge.
“This kind of performance challenges me on every level,” she said. “Voice, acting, confidence. It’s quite a rush.”
Maura Jones began performing at a very young age and was presented with the “Most Theatrical” award during her pre-school graduation ceremony.
“I can actually be shy in one-on-one situations,” she said. “As a young person, I would get anxious when I had to carry on conversations with people I didn’t know very well, but stick me on stage in front of a crowd and I feel right at home.”
Jones is excited about the cabaret’s more intimate performance experience.
“We’re going to get up-close and personal with the audience, which should be a lot of fun for both us and the audience,” she said.
Sabina Karwowski first performed in a high school play three years ago, and just last week performed in the high school musical, “The Color of Plaid.”
“Performing is a way to show my talents to the public, while having fun and collaborating with some awesome people,” she said.
Sydney Paulino has been attending youth theatre camps for the last eight years, and has performed in several high school musicals. Performing in front of an audience makes her feel very daring.
“Performing on stage is a chance for me to try to be someone else so completely that the audience doesn’t see Sydney anymore,” she said.
Paulino has always been drawn to the glamour of Broadway musicals and is excited to sing the Broadway songs she loves in this cabaret.
Chloë Pleznac has been performing for the past four years.
“The first time I ever performed was also the first time I ever talked in front of a crowd — and the first time I ever had to memorize lines,” she said. “I was terrified, cried a lot beforehand and was extremely stressed. But when I got on stage, it just felt right — even though I was scared of messing up.”
Pleznac values the connections she makes with her fellow performers.
“When you act with other people, they see the transformation of you stripping down to the essence of who you are and then building a character up from that; you see that in them too,” she said. “This can take months and it really connects you to one another.”
Sierra Smith recalls performing at McNeil Canyon Elementary School as a monkey in a circus, wearing a yellow vest and jumping through hula-hoops. She has performed with Pier One Theater and in choir, swing choir and community choir.
She acknowledges the time, energy and hard work that go into preparing for a two hour-long show.
“I have to sing in my car, shower, kitchen, bedroom, on the sidewalk and in the hallways at work in order to memorize, practice and perfect pitch, words and choreography,” she said.
Jessica Williams is the creator, producer and director of Broadway Babies.
“This ensemble has the comics, the dancers, the balladeers and the belters,” she said. “Some are new to singing, but have voices that will blow you away, like Hannah. Some have never been seen quite as comically before, like Sierra. Some have never been quite as vulnerable before, like Maura. I hope the community comes out and supports these ladies showcasing their incredible talents.”
Broadway Babies is April 18 and 19, 7 p.m. at Wasabi’s Restaurant, 4.5 miles out East End Road.
The performance acts as a fundraiser for Homer Council on the Arts’ summer arts camp, with tickets running $35 general admission, $50 front row “interactive seating” and $240 second row reserved table seating for six. Tickets include appetizers and dessert.
For more information and tickets, stop by or call the HCOA office, 235-4288 or visit homerart.org.
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